As the air conditioner continually runs through hot days and nights, the machine pulls in a lot of dust and debris. The dust and debris can put a further strain on the system and cause the air conditioner to work harder and overheat. The hard work will cause the circuit breaker to trip off. If the circuit breaker trips off repeatedly, it typically means that the filter is clogged and it needs immediate attention. If you aren't familiar with how to maintain the filter on an air conditioner, here is what you should do if summertime dust and debris are causing your air conditioner to trip off the circuit breaker.
Window Air Conditioner
In a self-contained unit like a window air conditioner, the filter will be located right in the air conditioner unit. You can get to the filter by taking the front cover off of the air conditioner. The filter is usually clipped into place in front of the cooling coils—although some are screwed in. Turn the air conditioner off before you remove the filter. Take off the cover of the air conditioner and remove the filter.
Many window air conditioning manufacturers place re-usable filters into the units. Take the filter outside and shake the debris and dust off of it. Then, take it back inside and clean it with warm, soapy water. Let the filter air dry and place it back into the air conditioner. If the filter is in bad shape, just replace it with a new one.
Central air systems can have filters in a couple of locations. There is usually a filter in the main unit next to the cooling and heating coils. You can access these by opening up the door to the HVAC unit and sliding the filter out of a bracket. However, there may also be filters located throughout your house. The HVAC system uses a double-duct system to move air throughout the house. One duct system pushes the cool air out while the other system pulls the hot air from inside the home back to the air conditioner portion of the HVAC. Many times, there will be a filter located behind the grill on the wall for the return air portion of the duct system. Open the return air grills and replace the filter. These filters are usually throwaway models that shouldn't be reused even after cleaning.
Overheating the air conditioner can cause a lot of damage that will shorten its life-span. You should replace the filters at least once a month or more if you live in a dusty and dry climate like the Southwestern United States, to make sure air flows properly through your system and it doesn't overheat.